What should you wear for those cold-weather workouts? Try these tips to keep up the pace when the temperature drops.
Layers, Layers, Layers One of the biggest mistakes you can make while exercising in the cold is to dress too warmly. The fix? Dress in layers to shed when you start to sweat. Start with a thin layer of synthetic material with “wicking” power—the ability to move moisture away from your skin and onto another fabric where it can evaporate. Next, add an insulating layer of fleece or wool to provide warmth. This insulating layer should be loose enough to trap air between layers, but not so heavy that it restricts movement. Top everything off with a waterproof, breathable outer layer. This outer layer helps protect against wind or rain (and a hood can further protect your head and face against the elements).
Head, Hands and Feet In cold temperatures, blood flow is concentrated on your body’s core, leaving your extremities vulnerable to frostbite. Most importantly, wear a hat or headband. If it’s very cold, consider wearing a protective facemask such as a balaclava, mask, hood—and even a neck scarf. For hands, try wearing a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier gloves or mittens lined with wool or fleece. Remove the mittens or gloves if your hands begin to sweat. For your feet, consider buying exercise shoes a half-size or one size larger than usual to allow for thick thermal socks or an extra pair of regular socks. In addition, consider special running shoes now available with metal spikes designed to handle slippery terrain.
Common Sense No matter how much gear you buy, nothing trumps common sense when exercising in cold weather. To stay safe, remember these precautions:
- Wear Sunscreen: Wear a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 30. Use a lip balm that contains sunscreen. And protect your eyes from snow and ice glare with dark glasses or goggles.
- Drink Fluids: You can become just as dehydrated in the cold as in the heat, but it may be harder to notice during cold weather.
- Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia: Early warning signs of frostbite include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation. If you suspect frostbite, get out of the cold immediately and seek care. Hypothermia signs and symptoms include intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination and fatigue. Seek emergency help right away for possible hypothermia.
- Take a break when it’s too cold: Wind chill extremes can make exercising outdoors unsafe even if you dress warmly. If the temperature dips below 20 degrees Farenheit (particularly if you don’t have the right gear) consider taking a break or choosing an indoor activity.